When you started your business, you probably never stopped to consider the type of boss you’d turn out to be. Chances are, though, that you have some pretty powerful memories of terrible bosses from your past. Have you slipped into some of those destructive, demeaning, confusing and counterproductive habits? If you think you may need a primer on how not to boss your employees, these tips will help.
Behaviors that Tag You as a Bad Boss
You play things too close to the vest. You want your business to prosper and do realize that you need help from others to make that happen. You’re prepared to pay good compensation and expect your employees to take ownership of the tasks they’re assigned. The only problem is that they can’t perform those assigned tasks well if they don’t have all the facts. When you use executive privilege to change procedures, or just disregard the rules for your own special projects, you make life harder for your staff. If you have deals in process that you can’t announce yet, or are just the type of business owner who feels comfortable using a “lone wolf” approach, the least you should expect is some energetic grumbling. When you don’t let your people know what’s going on, they will eventually start thinking that you don’t trust them. Transparency may not always be possible, but the more you communicate, the more equipped your employees will be to handle the duties that come their way.
You make it personal. Employees feel strongly about compensation, but they feel passionately about the way they’re treated. If you don’t want to be the topic of water-cooler rancor, pay attention to the results of a Public Agenda Foundation of New York’s study. It found that respect is the number one feature an employee values at work. When employers criticize workers in front of others, are discourteous, curt, or show favoritism, it can create the kind of resentment and enmity that no employer wants to deal with. Workers bring their good and bad moods with them to work, but as the boss, it’s your bad mood and disregard that will be remembered.
You aren’t consistent. Small businesses are usually in a state of flux during the early years. That’s all the more reason to try to establish some basic rules that employees can rely on. Workers may have to turn on a dime when that huge order comes in, but putting procedures in place and observing them fairly consistently is a good idea. Lunch times, the tasks assigned to each desk, and paperwork procedures should be reliably uniform. If this is a tall order for your small business, at least make the effort to communicate well. Send out a periodic employee newsletter, have Monday morning meetings, update your staff with regular emails. If you can’t be consistent, be a great communicator. That way your employees may have to adjust to your company’s changing needs, but at least they’ll get the word as soon as you do.
You don’t delegate. You may be the kind of boss everyone likes and respects, but you exasperate your staff by insisting on doing everything yourself. Yes, you want that newsletter to go out to the printer this week, but only after you’ve had a chance to proofread it. You want to inspect all big outgoing shipments to make sure they’re properly containered. You insist on being in on the decision making for everything from the style of this year’s Christmas cards to the size of the floor mats in the lobby. This may be a little extreme, but if you see yourself in here anywhere, take a lesson. If you have good people working for you, delegate tasks to free up your time for more important things. If you don’t feel comfortable delegating, maybe you need new people.
Before you become the boss everyone loves to dislike, take a look at the way you relate to your staff. Are you a good communicator? Do you give people the information they need to do a good job? When you give orders, are you consistent? Do you trust those around you to carry out your instructions? Do you treat them with respect? To grow your company, you’ll need to find and keep good people. Money and comprehensive benefits are a big draw, but what inspires respect and engenders loyalty is great management, not good compensation.